The 7 Important Realities of Working from Home

With more than 5% of U.S. workers now working from home (source), an increasing number of employees and self-employed individuals are able to avoid daily commutes to the office.
Those who have always worked in an office may wonder what it’s like to work from home every day. In truth, it’s mostly positive (for the right person), but there are definitely some drawbacks as well.
As someone who’s been working from home for a while, I wanted to write this article to shed some light and the good and the bad as it relates to working from home.

1. You Can Save a Significant Amount of Time and Money
Probably the biggest benefit related to working from home is the time that you can save by not needing to commute every day. Many Americans drive 30-60 minutes (or more) each way, every day. That adds up to 5-10 hours per week! If you work from home, you can use that extra time to be with family, to pursue hobbies, to sleep more, or to spend more time working productively.
Marc Andre, a finance blogger at Vital Dollar who has been working at home for more than 10 years, said “Cutting out a daily commute has allowed me to have more time to focus on growing my business. I usually work about 50 hours per week, but it feels more like 40 because I have no commute and I can go straight to family time when I am done working.”
In addition to the time, you’ll also save money. You’ll save by using less gas, needing less maintenance on your car, and (possibly) reduced car insurance premiums. You may also save by not spending as much money on clothes for work and by eating lunch at home instead of heading to a restaurant.
2. The Environment of Your Home Office is Important
The specifics of your home office can go a long way in determining your level of productivity. Ideally, you should have a space in your home that is dedicated strictly for your office. It’s best if it is its own room where you can close the door and minimize noise.
If possible, the office should be in a spot of the house away from other distractions, especially if others will be in the house while you are working. A window for natural light is also extremely helpful.
Trying to work in an area of the home that doesn’t offer privacy or separation from others can be difficult and lead to lower productivity.
3. You’ll Need Discipline
Working from home requires you to be more disciplined in order to maximize productivity. There will be no boss looking over your shoulder. Some people thrive in this environment, and others struggle.
From my experience, one of the keys to being productive while working from home is to enjoy what you do.
When you enjoy your work, it’s a lot easier to stay focused and engaged. Trying to do a job that you don’t enjoy can be harder at home than in an office.
4. You’ll Face Distractions and Temptations
Working in an office and working from home both present distractions, but they are different. In an office, you may find that your co-workers to be distracting. At home, you won’t have the same distraction, but you will face other distractions and temptations.
If you’re easily distracted and you have a hard time staying on task without someone pushing you, you may be better off to work in an office setting.
5. You’ll Have Greater Flexibility
There’s no doubt that you’ll have greater flexibility working from home, but just how much flexibility can depend on your job. Remote workers who are employees may still have a lot of virtual meetings and schedules that are pretty rigid. Other employees and those who are self-employed will typically have more flexibility.
The flexibility can come in handy for anything from sick days, to time for appointments, to dealing with family schedules and everything else that happens in everyday life.
For a lot of people who work from home, flexibility is the number one perk. Whether you simply prefer to not be constrained by your schedule, work as a stay-at-home parent, need flexibility for health issues, or any other reason, this is a major draw to working from home.
6. Separating Work and Life Can Be Difficult
On the downside, working from home presents a significant challenge in establishing a healthy work-life balance. With your office right there, it’s easy to wind up working more hours than you intend, or to “check in” too much.
Although everyone loves the flexibility, maintaining consistent working hours is one of the best things you can do to separate work and life. Have a specific start and end time each day, and when you’re done, leave your office and close the door.
7. It’s Not for Everyone
Overall, working from home is a great option for many people, but the truth is, it’s not for everyone. If you would have a hard time working on your own with very little face-to-face interaction with others, it’s probably not the best option for you.
You’ll need to evaluate your own strengths and weaknesses to know whether you would thrive working from home, or if you would struggle. Others may find that working from home is a great option for a certain chapter in their life, but not something that they want to do for the rest of their career.
If you’re thinking about working from home, please consider all of these factors and decide if it would be a good fit for you.

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Your Logo is Not Your Brand – Why You Need a Brand Architecture and Strategy

Many business and marketing leaders think a brand starts and ends with a logo, colors and design.
In the digital age of today marketers know how to strategically piece together a beautiful canvas of images on their Instagram profile, create eye catching Facebook cover photos, and engaging video intro and outros for YouTube.
However, experienced brand marketers know branding is far more than a logo or a simple social media image that gets a ton of likes on Facebook or LinkedIn. In reality, the logo is the easy part and only one small yet very important component of your brand.
To survive in business today marketers must know how to build a brand architecture and strategy. One that is inclusive of the brand identity with supporting visuals, language and more. The colors, language and visuals are supporting elements, not “the” brand. Big difference.
Your brand is not your logo! It is a promise delivered. Value Received.
When developed properly, your brand is your platform to differentiate, communicate and attract your dream customers. It helps people know what to expect from your brand as well as the products and services you provide.
Your brand is your promise and value you offer customers, your community and all who come in contact with your brand. It’s a promise delivered. It’s value received. It’s community. It’s relationship. It’s empowerment, inspiration, education and more.
Your brand is why you do what you do and why others should join your cause, mission and vision. Your brand should invite them to be part of something bigger than you or them can be alone.
Are you influencing brand perception in a positive way?
Some argue that “your audience determines your brand, so why worry about it?” While it is true that the perception of your brand is in fact in the eye, heart and mind of the recipient, it is not true that the receiver is responsible for that first, second or third brand touch. That is your responsibility.
At the root of your brand are a set of experiences. Your brand is your personality, communication, tone and perceptions of all who experience your brand.
It’s how people describe your brand and the experience you offer them. It’s what they say good or bad about you when you are in the room, and when you’re not.
You can’t control perception. However, you can influence perception if you know how to build, launch and manage your brand architecture. Every brand touch is an opportunity to influence perceptions, to build your reputation.
At the core, your brand is rooted in who you are and how you care about others. It’s not just about you. It’s not just about pretty colors or a logo you pay a marketing or branding agency big bucks to design.
It’s not a brand manual an agency delivers and you don’t look at again until you need to update your business cards. Your brand is something you live daily.
Your Brand is the Foundation for a Successful Business
Your brand is the foundation and one of the most important aspects of your business. Regardless of the size of your business, you have one chance to make a first, second and third impression. Every brand touch counts. Every brand touch is influencing perception and building your reputation. You are either earning trust, building thought leadership and relationships or you are not!
A good brand architecture and strategy will enable you to better share your brand story in an authentic way. Doing such can emotionally bring people closer to your brand in a very real, meaningful and human way. The more confidence you have in your brand foundation the more confidence your ideal customer will have in believing in your brand promise.
As a marketer you have the opportunity to be storyteller, and to also engage and empower others to not only be part of the story, but to give them a canvas and a paint brush and inspire them to help you write and tell it.
Would you like to learn where to start in building your brand architecture, strategy, vision, mission and more so that you can impact brand perceptions, increase brand equity and build a loyal tribe of brand evangelists? If you answer yes, then you have landed on the right blog post and podcast episode today!
Take a listen to the 201st episode of the Social Zoom Factor podcast where I provide the definition of a brand, reputation and most importantly the top 5 reasons why you must develop your brand strategy and how it can benefit your business, customers and greater community!
In this 25 minute podcast you will learn:

Definition of branding
Definition of a brand identity
Definition of brand architecture
Definition of visual branding
Definition of brand trust
Definition of reputation
Top 5 reasons you must develop a brand strategy for your business
Importance of brand story telling
How to increase brand equity
Risks that lead to decreased brand equity
Establishing thought leadership, earning trust and credibility via branding
How to differentiate from your competition via branding
How to tap into the power of emotional branding

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PR for Content Marketers

In this day and age, many people still consider PR and content marketing to be mutually exclusive.

While content marketers create quality material to inform readers while also branding that company in a certain way and with a certain voice, traditional PR generally aims to get stories and other material to the “news.”
However, I venture to say that the best content marketers and the best PR people use a mixture of both worlds to achieve the greatest results.
For example, creating quality content on a company’s website, blog, and various social media platforms will only get a business so far. Once a company has established their voice, they need to get heard by a larger audience. That’s where PR comes in! A good PR pro takes that great content and then shares it with traditional news agencies, industry trade magazines, and other publications. In creating a hybrid approach between content marketing and PR, companies see a bigger return on their advertising dollars.
So how can content marketers embrace PR?

Timeliness – As a content marketer, you probably already have a calendar of events for your industry. Maybe there’s a busy season when people buy the products you sell, or a big annual industry event. When creating content, keep in mind that the story may be “bigger” than just selling widgets through your own website. Think of angles that might interest the news media, a trade magazine or a blogger.
Guest blogging – You’ve already established that you can create great content. So why keep that content on your website and branded social media platforms only? Offer up a guest post to a blogger or website who caters to your potential audience.
Strategic partnerships – Another trick in the PR arsenal is for two companies or brands to partner up. Say you own a local pet store and you partner up with a local vet to offer up pet play day at your local dog park. When both you and the vet publicize this event, you’ve just doubled your audience.
Press Releases – Many content marketers think that the content should speak for itself. On the other hand, many news outlets expect to have news come straight to them in a certain format – the press release. Cater to your potential news media audience by not only releasing blog posts and fun social media campaigns, but press releases.
Network with the Press – Another trap content marketers may find themselves falling into is only networking with potential customers or partners. When you’re making your daily rounds on Twitter and Facebook, add some reporters to the mix. PR pros have been networking with reporters for years, and they get the power of a “warm lead” whenever it’s time to send a press release.

PR Pros, what other tricks can content marketers learn take from your tool belt? Content marketers, have you used any of these PR methods in your content marketing?

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OSU men’s golf: Viktor Hovland wins Ben Hogan Award

By Jeff PattersonViktor Hovland is having himself quite the year.An NCAA team championship almost one year ago.A seat next to Tiger Woods at Butler Cabin after posting the lowest amateur score at The Masters last month.And now winning the Ben Hogan Award, as the top men’s college golfer, on Monday night in Fort Worth, Texas.The Oslo, Norway, native became the fourth OSU golfer to win the award, joining Hunter Mahan (2003), Rickie Fowler (2008) and Peter Uihlein (2011).Hovland has placed in the top 12 in every collegiate tournament he has played in this season.Read more on

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5 Critical Setbacks in Agile Transformation!

We have been experiencing a radical change in terms of market dynamics and economic models for the last few decades. In fact, we are shifting from a world where giant companies are kings to a world where clients are kings, in other words, from a production-oriented world to a new service-based world. This radical and great change also affects the company structures and ways of doing business. Today, companies are trying to pull away from the old concept of the huge, pyramid organization dominated by hierarchy and bureaucracy which was the norm in the 20th century. If I may open this up a bit, I can say that the functionally organized institutions that take advantage of the economies of scale are now divided into many small ‘start-ups’ that are focused on fast value production, independent of each other but able to work together. In summary, we are leaving behind the old organizations that look like the Titanic. Instead, we have entered the era of companies which consist of many large and small boats and can move faster and more flexibly, namely “The Age of Agile” as Steve Denning calls it.
However, this is not an easy transformation. So much so that, when we compare the old business model and organizational structure to the agile approach, it is almost impossible to find something in common between the two. Therefore, this transformation process is a challenging and error-prone journey. In order not to repeat the same mistakes, let us look at the 5 basic setbacks that we encounter and practical solution proposals.
1. Disharmony of Transformation Vision and Strategy
In order to have a successful transformation, we need to start by answering this question first: ‘why to transform?’. As I mentioned, transformation is a long journey. You should clearly determine the goal you are aiming to achieve with the transformation efforts so that you do not depart from your goal in this journey. You should also create a common ground for everyone to understand this goal within the company. With the excitement of the wind of change, you may assume that everyone is on common ground and harmonization may be missed out.
For example, let me tell you about a study I have done with about 20 top executives of a global company that serves in the European region. When I asked them which ‘3 main’ subjects they wanted to improve within a year with the agile transformation journey they were carrying out, I had the following results:

As it is seen in this example, it will not be easy to obtain the desired results in a transformation study where different managers have different goals and priorities. Especially if we are talking about a radical transformation journey, it will be very difficult to even make a progress. Therefore, based on this example, improvement in 7 areas mentioned above can be the ultimate goal. However, it is important to tackle two or three areas at the most to reach this ultimate goal step by step, and to agree on this priority. Otherwise, this disharmony in management-level goals could lead to a greater ambiguity in the rest of the company.
Practical Solution:
Establish a guiding coalition that will start the transformation studies and lead it up to a certain point. This coalition should determine the transformation vision, lead the strategic steps towards this vision, provide guidance to the organization for the implementation of transformation efforts, and increase the visibility of all these studies.
Speaking of the guiding coalition, I suggest you read John Kotter’s “Our Iceberg is Melting”.
2. Management Makes No Progress
Agility is a culture transformation that is far more than just a set of practices to be applied at the team level. It means that the company’s entire way of working evolves into a whole new form. An important part of this is the process of managers’ transformation into next-generation servant leaders, leaving their old chain of command understanding and practices. In companies that go through the agility process, the management should start to change its own behaviors first and should set an example. Otherwise, there will be a serious tension between the teams that adopt the agile practices and those who are still using the old practices. As this tension builds up, it will seriously harm the transformation and will set back the evolution process.
According to the research conducted by in Turkey in 2018, the two biggest obstacles to agile transformation were found out to be the resistance to transformation and culture transformation. Current managers have a lot to do in order to cope with these two major challenges and turn into an Agile company. Managers should be part of the transformation starting from themselves, their daily behavior, and should guide the whole company by supporting the process.
Practical Solution:
Focus on training and coaching studies at the management level for your managers to abandon their old and traditional management habits and become the next generation Agile leaders. Start transformation studies not only by focusing on your teams, but also the management.
3. Rushing the Transformation
When was the last time you made a radical change about yourself? How long did this change take? People whom I ask these questions usually think for a while and then tell me that their last experience was years ago. So, perhaps for many of us, radical changes are not something that we are accustomed to in our lives or that we easily accomplish. This is the case with individuals. Imagine how long it will take to achieve a radical cultural transformation in an organization that has adopted a certain stance and habits over the years and has hundreds or thousands of employees.
As I mentioned previously, there may be situations where the management does not include itself in the process and forces the team to be ‘Agile’ as soon as possible. However, this rush only causes you to create teams that appear to be ‘Agile’ and create problems in the medium term. So, you end up with an elephant pretending to be a cheetah-like the one in the picture I shared at the beginning of this article. Furthermore, the dyes on the elephant can only withstand a few storms.
Thus, start by acknowledging that you started a challenging and long-lasting journey, that you will take radical actions, and that it will take time. Remember, you will make some mistakes in this complex transformation process and you will learn from them and change direction from time to time. Therefore, it is good to be open to mistakes from the beginning. Remember, experimentation is one of the most important values ​​of being agile.
Practical Solution:
In order to accelerate and advance in the medium term, one must start slowly. Start a transformation in a strategically important but relatively small part of the organization. Following your experiences here, extend the transformation studies to the entire organization.
4. Top-down Unilateral Progress of Transformation
In addition to establishing a guiding coalition I mentioned in the first title, it is important to ensure that the transformation is widespread and that there is a wide participation in the transformation efforts. Otherwise, what starts like a rapid fire under the leadership of a powerful guiding team cannot be more than a new approach adopted by a small visionary group. Or even if it can, it will not be resistant to storms because it will not be internalized and fully absorbed. To spread the fire, there must be strong winds (I’m talking about the guiding coalition) as well as sparks on the ground at different points. In summary, the transformation must proceed collaterally in both directions, not top-down or bottom-up.
Change has always been painful. The reason for this is that it usually contains many uncertainties, which is quite normal. These uncertainties trigger concerns and fears within the organization. At this point, the most effective method is to ensure that all experiences within the organization can be shared openly. Let your teams or people share how they see this change, how they experience it, share their good practices and discuss among themselves. This transparency will lead to adoption and improvement. Support them with tools (authority, time, money, etc.) so that they can solve problems on their own.
Let me tell you an interesting experience I had in a company I worked with. Usually, it is very difficult to trigger knowledge and experience sharing and create a community culture within a company. Or these sharing processes begin as a well-intentioned and constructive initiative, but they don’t last long. There are several reasons for this; the content may not be satisfying, there may be a small number of participants, the problems revealed may not be addressed. Though, the first few stories may need to be guided or supported in terms of content to set an example. However, it may still not be possible to establish adoption and ensure that stories continue on their own accord. At this point, we took advantage of “fame” to make these sharing platforms more attractive, getting inspiration from Andy Warhol’s words “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”. In fact, what we did was pretty simple; we published interesting announcement communication tools, which consisted of the pictures of the person or team that will share something. This simple transparency has aroused curiosity within the company and paved the way for many people to say, “I have something to say too”. This sharing platform has been going on for three years and it still continues.
Practical Solution:
Create internal competency-based and/or practice-oriented communities. Invest in these communities to make them functional and sustainable. Authorize these communities to be part of the transformation. Thus, you can have an organization where people not only share something but also take actions.
5. Failure to Take Necessary Steps for Persistency
“Agile” is a brand-new way of working. Therefore, both your leaders and teams will need a lot of support along the way. For this support, select volunteer and competent people who are interested in Agile practices and want to be part of this transformation journey. Support their personal development as transformation agents. These transformation agents, your internal Agile Coaches, will play a critical role in implementing the agile practices properly and turning this new way of working into a permanent culture as the transformation of your organization accelerates and expands.
Consider the role of Agile Coach as your accelerator that enables your organization to achieve autonomy and derive the maximum benefit from it; as well as enabling this new structure to transform into maximum employee happiness and business value production. It is normal for your old reflexes, your point of view, and your old ways to come to the surface many times in the transformation journey. When you encounter difficulties, you will need the guidance of your Agile Coaches very much to avoid going back.
Practical Solution:
Begin by setting up a small Agile Coach community consisting of experienced and eager people in your organization like Agile team members, Scrum Master, and Product Owner. Train and guide this community with the support of outside experts. At least some of them will be your successful agents of internal transformation in the future.

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Mexico calls for regional development to address immigration

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A U.N. commission on Monday presented a roadmap to boost economic development in three Central American nations whose poverty and violence now pushes desperate migrants to travel across Mexico to the United States.

The plan calls for hefty increases in social spending, tackling corruption and improving security — as well as a hefty dose of financial support and investment, possibly from the United States.

Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the plan laid out by the United Nations' Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) was the United States' best option for stemming the flow of immigrants.

"It goes to the root of the problem," López Obrador said.Read more on

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Officials say Iran quadruples production of enriched uranium

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran quadrupled its uranium-enrichment production capacity amid tensions with the U.S. over Tehran's atomic program, nuclear officials said Monday, just after President Donald Trump and Iran's foreign minister traded threats and taunts on Twitter.

Iranian officials made a point to stress that the uranium would be enriched only to the 3.67% limit set under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, making it usable for a power plant but far below what's needed for an atomic weapon.

But by increasing production, Iran soon will exceed the stockpile limitations set by the accord.Read more on

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